As a travel agent, I get so many questions about “last minute deals”–you know, the ones featured on a number of travel websites. However, I can’t stress enough that any deal that seems too good to be true, probably is. So, is it possible to save money and still get a fantastic vacation? My answer, surprisingly, is YES! The key is actually to book earlier instead of later. Here’s why:
- Hotels–the earlier you book, the more room categories you can choose from. All-inclusive hotels offer a number of different room categories, from garden views to opulent ocean front suites with private pools. The earlier you book, the better chance you have of getting the room category that fits your budget. Plus, if you book early and a sale happens later, most hotels will honor the new price as long as your room category isn’t sold out–and this includes Walt Disney World Resorts.
- Airfare prices–these anomalies are tough to follow. I have actually seen air rise and fall within the same hour–for the exact same flight. I get so many questions about when the best time is to book. So, my answer is: when you are ready to book, just do it! Again, though, the earlier the better. If you wait too long, then you run the risk of flights being available but you get to sit next to strangers instead of your family. I actually watched a family of 6 board a plane home from Turks and Caicos, 2 parents and 4 kids–the mom had to beg and plead with other passengers so she could sit next to her young daughter (who was maybe 6 years old at the time). Plus, if you purchase certain types of travel protection, some airlines will include a best price guarantee. This means if the cost of the flight goes down, you get the better price.
- Dining–if you are heading somewhere like Disney, you MUST BOOK AT LEAST 180 DAYS IN ADVANCE!!!! I can’t stress this enough. I don’t care if you are staying on Disney property or at your Grandma Josephine’s house, if you want to eat a sit down meal inside the Walt Disney World complex, you need reservations–and these book up FAST! So be sure to make these as early as possible–or have your travel agent do it so you don’t have to get up at the crack of down and spend 2 hours on the phone. (Hint: I offer this service FREE to all of my clients.)
- Transportation–to go along with booking hotel and air early, don’t forget about transportation. How do you plan to get from the airport to your destination? If you are in a different county, please don’t rely on cab services as these can be sketchy. Instead, book transportation through your hotel (many resorts offer this service complimentary) or add a private transfer onto your tour package.
- Excursions, Spa Treatments, Shows, Etc.–I have often been told, “I’ll just wait until I get there to book [insert Spa appointments, Bibbity Bobbity Boutique appointments for my kids, Dunn’s River excursions, tee times].” What happens in these cases is that spas are all booked up, excursions are sold out, and the tee times available are less than desirable. Again, book early. Normally prices for these little extras won’t change much–and most offer great cancellation policies in case something comes up. So get them set in stone. It is always better to cancel than to look forward to something you won’t be able to do.
So, there you have it. The top 5 reasons why booking a trip early can actually benefit you. I usually get my personal trips booked up to a year in advance–and at some of the most popular resorts, like Turks and Caicos, even sooner than that. In fact, we wanted to return there next spring break–and we tried to rebook while we were still at the resort–but the room we wanted was already sold out a year in advance. So don’t delay! Book your trip early to get exactly what you want.